Five Days of Bass

Since my last two picks were examples of the British bass boom of the late 70’s and early 80’s (with the last entry specifically articulating a few theories as to why this boom came into being) I thought that today’s pick should be something showing more the exact influence that Motown had on the bass sound of the era.

The Jackson 5’s ‘Darling Dear’, featuring the superlative work on bass by James Jamerson, was my prototype bass sound of Motown pick, and when put before the Au Pairs and Jah Wobble you see that though influenced, the British kids interpreted bass in a much more antsy, angular way (I’d think it’d be explained in an obvious evolution; in American one slides when they danced to pop music, while in Britain in the late 70’s everyone was doing the pogo. Bass should pop and burst if pogo is what everyone is doing, while it should meander and slide if everyone is going to slink around). This isn’t to say that it was all this way, and today’s pick is meant to show a British track from the era with fluid Motown-like bass. 

Appearing on Joe Jackson’s 1979 debut, Look Sharp, “Happy Loving Couples” features Jackson’s usual acerbic lyrics, mixed with bass stylings comings from an altogether earlier era. Playing bass in Joe Jackson’s band at the time was Graham Maby, a man that has played on most of his subsequent albums the past 30 odd years. Jackson’s albums were always in favor with the two-tone reggae-esque stylings of the singer-songwriter movement at the time (Maby also played with Graham Parker in the 90’s), so it’s obvious to point out that without Maby’s remarkably dexterous playing, his albums would have lacked their considerable punch. Jackson brought the barking wit to the proceedings, but it’s Maby that almost always provided the bite.

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